Sunday, December 28, 2008

Felted Slippers

I wanted to use the two lonely balls of Lion Wool I had. Felted slippers seemed like the way to go. After my success with the felted bags, I was bold.

This uses a basic sock pattern with a modification at the top for the cuff.

The cuff was cast on with 25% more stitches than the sock, worked in garter stitch until I was happy, then knit together to decrease down to the amount needed for the sock.

I nearly ran out of yarn for this one, but felt seems more forgiving than I anticipated.

The first picture shows them knit up in giant size. The second shows the felted, finished product.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Passel of Purses

I know, it's Christmas Day, now is not the time to make Christmas presents. Well, I guess I'm just not very good with deadlines.

I picked up these purse kits ages ago and just hadn't gotten around to making the purses. Basically, it's an entire craft project that requires no sewing or skill. You buy the bag, you attach the findings, add the little charms and you have a personalized purse.

Well.... I didn't like the the bag part of the kit, so I made them myself, using the kits to finish them off.

The first picture shows the finished bags and the bits to make them into finished purses. The second shows the wonderful purses once complete. Fully lined and perfect to carry a Barbie or a good book. I'll be sad to see them go. I wouldn't mind one of these for myself, but I am sadly out of the kits.

If some of that fabric looks familiar, don't tell anyone about it, especially little girls that like pink.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Outdoor Creativity

Over the weekend, several inches of frozen, winter wonder fell at my house. On Monday, I had to shovel more than a little of it.

It seems my sewing and knitting is much better than my skill with a snow shovel. The simple straight path from my front door to the mailbox has become a winding path.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Kote of Grace, Part Two

After a horrible pocket accident, we're back on track.

I've layered the lining and insulating layers and started binding them all together.

Sorry, no pictures to go with this one, there isn't much new to see.

Colorful Star Shawl

Sometimes, I get distracted. This time I was distracted by the idea that I could create an interesting shawl by creating my own pattern.

While this isn't getting my other projects done, I do have a wonderful shawl to give away for the holidays.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kote of Grace: Part One

Hop up and down and clap your hands if you know what this is.

I've done all the really tedious ironing and cutting out of the pieces. It's time for some assembly!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving Thanks

This simple scarf was started on Thanksgiving Day. Something to keep my hands busy while I visited with friends after dinner.

Dimensions: 9" wide and almost 6' long.

Worked on size 13 needles with two strands of Homespun held together.

Ends worked in garter stitch and garter stitch edging (first two and last two stitches.

Wicked simple, worked up quickly and kept me busy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cranberry Gauntlets

I promised fingerless mittens. So, here they are.

They may not look like much, but the do the trick. They ended up much longer than I anticipated, but the decreases I had to work in had me a little stuck.

All said, a good project that came out nicely.

What's next? Hats for little people. Well, not that little. I picked up some inexpensive yarn at the local chain store. I wasn't quite ready to jump back into mis-matched socks. Don't worry, they're still on my to-do list.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My latest sweater.

After a few weeks, you can actually knit up something bigger than socks.

This is some bulky, washable wool yarn I purchased over a year ago in Portsmouth, NH. There is a very nice little shop there. I tired to visit every time we stopped. I picked up this yarn as part of a discontinuation sale. That's why I had only the quantity I had, which was barely enough to finish the sweater. (After the sweater was done, I only threw away the little bits you have left over after working in the bitter ends.)

I should have used a provisional cast-on around the middle of the chest, worked from there to the collar. Then, gone back and worked from the provisional cast-on to the hem. It turned out I ended up pulling out the hem from where I'd joined a ball of yarn just to finish the collar. Then I had to go back and work the bottom ribbing. Working ribbing isn't my favorite thing, having to do it twice for the same sweater has made me realize the provisional cast-on is a great idea.

Next on the needles? Fingerless mitts that come half-way to my elbow. Winter comes to some sooner than others. I need something to keep my wrists warm when I take the dogs out. Just shoving my hands in my pockets isn't working.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mis-Matched Socks

In an effort to avoid buying more yarn, I've been working through my leftovers. I decided to work through my bulky yarn by making thick, winter socks for wear around the house. I actually manged to make three pair of mismatched socks, but one pair is busy keeping my feet warm and could not be bothered by the photographer.

I think I'll go find some more yarn, the knitting book and decide which sweater I'd like. Winter is the best time to knit sweaters.

Or, I could work through my worsted weight yarn by knitting hats, or mittens. Oh, dear. Now I have a problem.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Doctor

A friend of mine asked me to make him a Doctor Who scarf. It must have been over a year ago.
(Here are other posts that mention the scarf: Beginning and an Update.)

Today, I can say that I have knit, and knit, and knit, and finally reached the end of the never-ending scarf. Not so never-ending after all.

This was a project that worked well with watching television. You can knit and watch TV, really. It keeps your hands busy and you get to catch up on the shows you like. What could be better than watching David Tennant play The Doctor while knitting up a Doctor Who scarf?

It's difficult to capture the real size of this thing. I ended up wrapping it around my dress form to show how it should look when worn. It's more than a little long on Rita, she's only as tall as I am. A taller person, say around six feet tall, wouldn't have to wrap it around so many times.

It's between 12 and 13 inches wide, done completely in garter stitch. Fringe is about 6 inches long. Knit using a wool blend from Lion Brand Yarns. I'm not positive, but I think I used around 20 balls of yarn for this project.

How long is it? Well, the rough guess, since it stretches, is around 23 feet, including the fringe. I'm sure I could measure it a couple more times and get a completely different answer. I'm going with 23 feet.

I found the instructions here.

I know, I've overdone it. Like always. It's about two inches too wide and most likely several feet too long. I'm not going to undo it, I'm going to leave it as it is.

Now that the pictures and posting part is done, it's time to box it up and get it out of here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Denim Skirt: A How-to

After the last skirt, I wanted to put up something that shows more of the steps in creating a 6-gore skirt.

I'll talk you through the steps to creating your own skirt.

Warning: I'm going to leave out the instructions for creating the pattern for the skirt. You can find that at the web page referenced in an earlier post.

Second Warning: I will not tell you how to sew in a zipper. To put mine in, I just followed the instructions that came with the zipper.

Step one: iron your fabric. Some people think this is an optional step. I'm here to tell you that it is NOT an optional step. That's right, half of sewing is ironing. A good press is worth more than you can imagine. With quilting, when you're working with 1/4 inch seam allowances, a 1/8 inch here and 1/8 inch there can really add up. The same is true with garments, it just takes more of those little mistakes to mess things up. That's why I told you to iron the fabric before you started layout and cutting. Fabric that has wrinkles or folds in it will not cut to the same size as your pattern. The same goes for your pattern, too. Make sure the steam is off on the iron and press the patterns before use.

Fold the fabric so the selvage edges line up (if you have 2 yards of fabric you would fold the opposite way it comes on the bolt, in other words, it would be 1 yard long folded). I purchased three yards of fabric for this project. I ended up with about 1/2 yard of fabric left over. The fabric was 60" wide, not 42". I can get six gores out of 42" wide fabric and eight out of 60" fabric. I can't tell you the math for figuring out how much fabric you'd need for different sizes. I can tell you that the calculation is out there on the Internet, I just don't have the reference for you right now.

Lay out the pattern piece so it is parallel to the selvage edge. Use the center line of the pattern piece to get this lined up correctly.

I used my rotary cutter and ruler to make the long cuts and scissors for the top and bottom cuts. This made it go much more quickly and ensured nice neat cuts.

I cut the waist band on the length of the fabric (parallel with the selvage edge). I cut it several inches longer than the recommendation. After my last skirt and the waistband that I had to add length to, I was going to make sure it was long enough.

I ran all the pieces through the serger to keep the edges nice and neat and to prevent raveling in the future. With some wovens, you just need this step to keep your garment going longer. You could also use a simple zig-zag stitch on a conventional sewing machine, or trim the edges with pinking shears (I have some, but no idea where they are).

Sew two of the gores together with a straight stitch, following the standard 5/8" seam allowance. You should be able to simply use the plate on your sewing machine to determine this distance from the needle. If needed, place a piece of tape on the machine to help you line up the seam allowance.

Back to the ironing board we go. Press the seam flat, this sets the stitches and makes it easier to press the seam open.

Open the work and iron it open before you flip it over to press open the seam. You'll have to trust me, again.

Turn to the wrong side and press the seam open. When you do this, you should really only be pressing down one side of the seam allowance, the other side was pressed when we pressed it open from the right side.

Now that your seam is pressed open, it's time to add the detail stitching.

NOTE: If you think there is any chance the skirt will not fit, now is the time to forget about the detail. Sew all the seams but one and check the fit. Don't forget you'll need to have room for another 5/8" seam allowance. If you're confident that it will fit (which I was) you can just keep going with the detail stitching.

I would sew two gores together, press and put in the detail stitching. This way I only had to wrestle with a small piece of the overall skirt. Granted, this really only worked for the first three seams, but it was still easier than sewing all the gores together and THEN doing the detail stitching. It also slowed me down a little since I was using only black thread for construction. I used gray and black thread for the detail (gray on right side). I had to do a couple seams, change thread, detail stitch, change thread... you get the idea.

For the detail stitching, I just used the presser foot as a guide along the seam line, with the needle in the center position and stitched from the top to the bottom, turned and stitched back up to the top. I kept the turn stitches on the fabric since I knew I'd be trimming the hem later.

Before I got too carried away with all this detail, I put the zipper between two of the gores and completed the detail stitching on that third.

See the note earlier about the zipper. I can tell you that the instructions provided with your zipper will be easy to understand and follow. Their pictures are much better than mine could ever be.

Keep creating seams and applying the detail stitching until you have joined all but one of the seams.

This is where you'll have to double check your fit. Don't say I didn't warn you earlier.

Last seam and some fighting with the sewing machine. This is where the trick of sewing down one side of the seam and back up the other really comes into play. Otherwise, you'll end up with the skirt almost stuck on the arm of the sewing machine. Just turn the work and go back the way you came. It will be back out from under that foot in no time.

Now we're ready to add the waistband.

Before we get too carried away, let's get back to the ironing board. We want to press the 5/8 inch seam allowances on both sides of the waist band. If needed, use a ruler and draw a guide to make sure this press is as even as possible.

Next, we fold it in half; the same way it will be on the finished garment. This press is primarily for ease of use. It may well change once we've sewn in the band, but it's a good guide.

Making sure that one end of the waist band overlaps the top of the zipper, we pin the band to the top of the skirt.

Depending on which side of the skirt you'd like to put the waistband opening, you will leave enough to create the overlap just past the zipper (I've got a picture below that shows exactly what I mean.).

Here you can see that I've pinned the waistband to the top of the skirt. I usually like to keep the flat piece of fabric on the bottom (the feed dog side) to make feeding it through the machine easier.

Just a side note: don't let the needles go through the machine. I know, you may know that I have loads of bent pins, indicating I don't follow my own advice. I've also changed more than a few machine needles due to this oversight. If you want to keep from busting up machine needles take the straight pins out before they get to the feed dogs.

Safety first!

Now, we fold the waist band with right sides together. This will allow us to sew across the ends. The side that will be the back (I intend to wear the skirt with the zipper on my right hip) is sewn flush with the edge just above the zipper.

The other end is sewn about 1 1/2 inches from the zipper edge to create the tab that will overlap.

Trim the seam allowance on these so they will turn more easily. I usually just cut the corner so I can make it more or less pointy when it's turned.

Then we pin the waist band so we can do the detail stitching and secure the inside of the waistband.

When I made the patchwork skirt, I didn't do as much detail stitching, so I just finished the inside of the waistband with hand-stitching. With this skirt, I wanted the stitching to show.

I stitched all the way around the band, turning at the corners and continuing until I'd made the complete "lap." Since I started the stitching on the back, where the tab would overlap, it should be completely hidden when the skirt is worn.

Now, for the hemming. Yes, we'll get back to the ironing board.

First, let's try the skirt on and check the length. You can have someone help you, if needed. I usually just eyeball it. For this skirt, I marked down two inches from the bottom and used the serger to cut off the excess and clean up the bottom edge.

Press up 5/8 inch on the bottom.

I used more detail stitching to make the bottom hem. I like it when I'm able to use a structural stitch to actually add design detail. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it is nice.

I stitched about 1/4 inch from the bottom, then 1/4 inch from that stitching line.

Another press at this point will help set the stitches and create a nice sharp hem.

Finally, the closure. I used a simple Sew-on hook & eye closure. You'll find this closure on slacks and skirts.

Sew the hook portion onto the wrong side of the tab and the eye to the right side of the side opposite.

So, there you have it. Skirt in a morning. I know that you'll find things that I do differently from the published instructions of pattern companies and the many books on the subject of sewing. These are just the things that I've found work for me.

Granted, I didn't manage to figure out how to add pockets, yet. I'll save that innovation for the next skirt. I should go rummage through my stash and see what suitable skirt fabric I might have. The denim was purchased specifically for a skirt, but you never know what's in the stash. Heck, I don't know what's down there.

Please, if you use these instructions, let me know. I promise to post a picture if you send me one.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The 6-gore Skirt Adventure - Part Two

The final chapter on the muslin test skirt that got completely out of control.

After the button placket and buttons, I sewed all the pieces together, pressed the seams open, and finished the detail stitching on the seams.

Then it was time to add the waistband. Other than it was about 1/2 inch too short, it worked out well. Since I had serged all the edges of the waistband, it wasn't that important. It's hidden by the button flap anyway.

That's pretty much where I left off last night. I had spent so much time on it that I just couldn't take much more. I left the hem for the morning.

Since the pattern was drafted with about three inches for hem allowance, I made a line three inches up from the bottom and used the serger to make a clean bottom edge. Now, where did I leave that box of left over quilt binding... Ah, there it is.

I found a length of binding long enough to go all the way around the hem, lucky me. I really didn't want to piece one together unless I had to.

Once around with the machine and it was time to get to the hand work. A quick press all around to set the stitches and I was off. A quick break for breakfast slowed me down a little, but it wasn't lone before I was back on track with the last of the binding.

I decided that I was so proud of my hippie skirt that I would wear it today. Nice warm day, perfect for a flowing skirt.

Since I was wearing the skirt, you get this final picture, showing the wonderful binding at the hem. Okay, so it also shows my hippie toes, too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The 6-gore Skirt Adventure

(Disclaimer: This post is horribly long. Primarily, because I refused to stop work to make several short posts. You'll get over it.)

I wanted to make myself a skirt. While doing research for dressing dolls, I had come across simple instructions on how to draft a skirt pattern using your waist and hip measurements. It had worked out well when designing for dolls, so I figured I'd give it a try in something more my size. After a bit of searching the internet, I found the page I was looking for.

After some quick math and some drawing with a ruler, I had a pattern drafted. Now, to test the pattern. I cut the six pieces of the skirt from some bleached muslin I had for backing quilts. I basted them together and tried it on.

Then, just so you could see, I made Rita wear the draft (if you don't know, my dress form is named Rita, primarily so I can curse at her when she loses weight). Granted, not a complete test, but close enough. Now, what to do with those six pieces of muslin? I didn't want to just set them aside and say "well done!" That would be a waste.

I decided it was time to break out the quilting scraps, again. Using the gores as a base, I started applying strips and blocks to each piece. I was going to have a scrappy wonder by the time I was done. I kept applying strips until I had almost completely covered the base. Then, I used the serger to clean up the edges. I couldn't bring myself to put a plain, white waist band around the top, so I had to apply strips to that, too.

To apply the strips, I just made sure the first piece covered the top of one of the gores, lined up the next piece with the bottom the first piece and sewed through all three layers. Press the second piece down and repeat the process for about 38 inches of gore. I didn't really have a plan. I just picked out the bright colors that said spring to me. Pinks, anything with flowers on it, green, blues purples and yellow. I don't think I made much of a dent in my box of strips. I did try to alternate light colored strips with dark colored strips. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not. You may think it took a load of time. It wasn't quick, but it didn't take as long as you might think. Just like putting together a quilt, this went relatively quickly.

The next question was how to close the garment. I decided mis-matched buttons would be cute to go with the crazy prints I had smashed together. Only one problem... I'd misplaced the buttons. I have a couple clear plastic containers with odd buttons in them, along with a mix of other buttons. I couldn't find them. That resulted in some wandering about saying "buttons." It also led to some yelling. "Honey, I can't find the buttons!" Eventually, the buttons were located. "Thank you, Honey." A quick look through them and I found five I liked.

You may be asking, why I wanted the buttons before I'd even finished the garment, but I have a very good reason. If you've ever wrestled with a quilt on the sewing machine, you'll understand. Sewing button holes onto something is much easier if you have the smallest piece to work with. For this step, I'd created the placket and sewn the two pieces of the skirt together. That way I only have to fight with 1/3 of the skirt on the sewing machine. Granted, I still have to fight with the entire thing when I put the waist band on, but that just can't be helped.

Button holes complete, buttons applied. Now all that remains is to get back to construction and completing my pattern test. I told you this was an adventure.

Right now, I'm off to do something that isn't sewing. I'll be back to this either sometime later today or tomorrow. Look for an update to my "simple" sewing project. The good news? Well, the next one I do will be made of denim, plain and simple. I just have to decide if I want a zipper or buttons. Hmmm.... something to think about.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Montana Fleece Animals

Okay, so the fleece animals are only from Montana because that's where I made them.

My friend Cassandre (Yarn All Over) was kind enough to send me a wonderful book to make cute, lovable stuffed critters.
This is my first attempt. His fluffy coat may not be the best, but I didn't buy a single thing for this project. Yes, I have THAT much stuff. I think his eyes might be too close together, too. I hope he gets to work grazing that yard.

You can find out more about the book, Wild and Wonderful Fleece Animals on Amazon.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stash Busting!

I just couldn't leave well enough alone. I just had to make another quilt. I decided I didn't want to cut fabric for this quilt. I wanted to use the four patches I already had. I picked through the bin full of blocks and pulled a bunch out.

I also pulled out some strips that seemed to fit what I already had and made up some more four patches.

With the help of Electric Quilt I put in a larger center block made up of several four patch blocks, added borders and started putting things together.

Electric Quilt wasn't that helpful when it comes to putting a bunch of blocks that aren't the same together, but it did tell me how many blocks I'd need.

'Round and round. I used some of the strips I'd found to put in the borders, trying to keep some semblance of order but keep it scrappy. I made sure to keep with the half-square corner blocks. Those were left over from yet another project.

How many projects really went into this? Hmmm... I think there are blocks from a wall quilt I made in New York to a nice lap quilt I made for my friend when I lived in Rhode Island. Some baby quilt bits are in there, too.

Overall, I think it came out quite nice. Honey says it looks "springy." I think the colors do come together to make something that reminds one of spring.

The good news? I only had to cut once. That was for the final border. I'm not sure what I'll back it with. I think it would make a great cuddle quilt for a little person. In that case, it needs flannel. Little people love flannel. Or, that's just my perception of little people.

Before I finished it, my mind was already working on what I should do with some more of those orphan blocks and strips I have hiding in bins.

Well, that's it for this week. I'll have to figure out what to do next week. I heard a rumor that we're going on an adventure next weekend. I'm not sure how that will work out. I'll let you know if I find any fabric.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And a Matching Bag!

First, I have to apologize for the quality of the picture. It seems my camera and I are not getting along. I failed to check my "during production shot" so you totally missed out on that part of this project.

Here is the finished bag. I used a few of the "extra" four-patch blocks I had left over, put them together into a 16" x 16" block, cut what remained of the focus fabric to match, then used some of the blue to make the straps.

The front, back and both sides are quilted with wonderful free form flowers sewn in red thread. I used a lighter batting to cut down on bulk. The straps go all the way around the bottom (the bottom is three layers of fabric without batting) to support the not-substantial weight of a quilt.

As you can see, it fits very nicely into the bag so she can carry it with her on the train back home.

It also occurred to me that this would be a great knitting bag. That's right, quilt-errific and can hold your yarn and needles. I think it would really be better with some inside pockets. I'll have to keep that in mind for my next "quilt transportation unit" is needed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Finally..... A Project!

Yes! That's right, I have found the fabric, the sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc. and the motivation to create something.

(This post was intended to arrive yesterday, but blogger was refusing to upload pictures. Sorry for the delay.)

My Aunt came to visit me for a week or so. She quickly realized that we are wicked boring. It was easy to convince her that she really needed to make a lap quilt to commemorate the trip and to keep her busy. That took us to the local Ben Franklin for supplies. We found the perfect fabric to pull my stash into some semblance of order. Stash-busting is fun. Besides, it means I get to buy more fabric.

I broke out my Electronic Quilt software and came up with something I figured she'd like. After playing with color we went looking for the fabric. Before the move, I knew where everything was. Now.... well, I think the whole first day was just finding all the quilting fabric and the batting. We ended up changing the color choices a little to meet the stash, but I think it will work out fine.

I have wanted to do a quilt with a big center block and several borders for a while. I made sure to take pictures of each step so you could see it grow. I suppose I could have broken it up into several posts, building suspense. I just didn't have the time. With Auntie's help I worked through the whole top on Sunday.

Each round, I used the focus fabric and chose fabrics that were contained in the focus fabric to create the four-patch borders, separated by solid borders.

There was a horrible cutting accident when I put the border on the center block. I cut to actual size of the yellow strip and had to add another one to make up the difference. I think it came out okay anyway.

Round and round we went until we hit 44" x 44". Then came time for the batting and backing. Since I'd gone over the size of your standard fabric width, I had to piece together the back.

Also, because I wanted to keep Auntie involved, I picked a fluffy batting so we could use the tie technique to hold it all together. (You'll have to wait for the finished product picture.) I added the binding, helped with the ties and we were almost done.

Of course, now I need to make something for her to carry it in to get it back home. Wouldn't want her to try to tote along a lap quilt on the train without a bag. Wish me luck. I'll have that one posted later today (assuming blogger lets me post pictures, that is).

Comments for this post are strongly encouraged. Please, let us know what you think!

Also, because I liked how the multiple borders thing worked out (thank you Electric Quilt!) I think I'm going to try it again. Maybe I can work through my scrap bag a little.